A 3-Time Olympic Rower And His Mission To Do 22 Ironmans In One Year


 Three-time Olympic rower, Miroslav Vrastil of the Czech Republic has taken his love of competing to a new level. Vrastil, 58, plans to break a world record by completing 22 Ironman triathlons in one year and the father of five has already begun. Vrastil started rowing when he was 12 years old in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia. For 18 years he competed in rowing while representing his country up to the age of 35. After competing at three Olympic Games (1972, 1976 and 1980), Vrastil was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in his leg.“I was not sure if the doctor was telling me or somebody else,” says Vrastil. “I could not believe it and my hands started shaking. I was only 30. Their final diagnosis was a necessary amputation of my right leg. I made my decision of not having my leg amputated even if that meant living for three months only or less.”Vrastil received no cancer treatment, opting just for surgery to remove the tumour. He estimates he stepped back from training for just six months.” I was not doing sport actively during this six-month period – my knee was out of function and I was trying hard to make it move with the help of my father no matter how painful it was. It went very slowly but it went. The tumour was still growing but it stopped after three months from the operation. I started to train again slowly in a rowing swimming pool with the help of my colleague Pavel Konvicka in the spring of 1982.” That year Vrastil rowed at the world championships finishing fourth in the men’s four. After retiring from competitive rowing, Vrastil remained involved in the sport as a professional coach. He continued this for five years but with the political change and his country becoming the Czech Republic, Vrastil stopped coaching to become a school teacher. Even when two of his children started to row, Vrastil did not come back to the sport. Then triathlon entered Vrastil’s life. After a 10-year period of doing very little physically, Vrastil was persuaded to try triathlon. His first race, a duathlon, is memorable in his finish.”The result was horrible for me, in fact I was nearly the last out of 130 competitors of all age groups. It was there (in 1988) that I decided to change it and go for it with all that it takes,” says Vrastil.”My rowing experience and sports experience in general have helped me in life. To strive, to compete, and not to give up, and that reflects in triathlons too,”says Vastil.Then along came the idea to beat the world record of doing 20 Ironman races in a year. Vrastil has set a target of 22 races and his list includes races around the globe. An Ironman consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and a 42.2km run and to reach the target of 22 Vrastil will be doing two, sometimes three, in a month.”I cannot say exactly what is behind my decision to do this,” says Vrastil. ”It was last year that I said to my wife, ‘I will do 22 Ironmans in one year,’ and my wife answered, ‘I will keep my fingers crossed’. Maybe it is a desire to reach, to strive.”

The timing and travelling schedule means that Vrastil will have to squash some of the races in a short space of time. “Many times, for example from February, I will do Ironman races in many consecutive weekends.” There’s Ironman Langkawi Malaysia on 27 February, Ironman Taupo, New Zealand on 6 March, Ironman Haikou, China on 14 March and Ironman Port Macquarie, Asutralia on 28 March. ”That will be very difficult,” says Vrastil. Recovery time will be while Vrastil travels.

Vrastil’s schedule:

  • Challenge Wanaka, New Zealand, Saturday, January 16, 2010
  • Ironman Malaysia, Langkawi, Saturday, February 27, 2010
  • Ironman New Zealand, Taupo, Saturday, March 6, 2010
  • Ironman China, Haikou, Hainan Island, Sunday, March 14, 2010
  • Ironman Australia, Port Macquarie, Sunday, March 28, 2010
  • Ironman South Africa, Port Elizabeth, Sunday, April 25, 2010
  • Ironman St. George*, Utah, USA, Saturday, May 1, 2010
  • Ironman Lanzarote, Lanzarote, Spain, Saturday, May 22, 2010
  • Ironman Brazil, Florianopolis, Sunday, May 30, 2010
  • Ironman Japan, Goto, Nagasaki, Sunday, June 13, 2010
  • Ironman Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, USA, Sunday, June 27, 2010
  • Ironman Austria, Klagenfurt, Sunday, July 4, 2010
  • Ironman Lake Placid, New York, USA, Sunday, July 25, 2010
  • Ironman Regensburg*, Germany, Sunday, August 1, 2010
  • Challenge Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, Sunday, August 15, 2010
  • Ironman Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Sunday, August 29, 2010
  • Ironman Wisconsin, Madison, USA, Sunday, September 12, 2010
  • Ironman Florida, Panama City Beach, USA, Saturday, November 6, 2010
  • Ironman Arizona, Tempe, USA, Sunday, November 21, 2010
  • Ironman Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico, Sunday, November 28, 2010
  • Ironman Western Australia, Busselton, WA, Sunday, December 5, 2010
  • Ironman World Championship, Kona, Hawaii, USA, Sunday, October 9, 2010

The Record

If he finishes, the 59-year-old father-of-five will break the world record for the most Ironmans completed in one year. He will have raced over almost 5000 kilometres in 12 months.

“This year’s Ironman race in Busselton is going to be especially extraordinary for me: joyful and difficult at the same time,” Vrastil said.

“It definitely won’t be an easy thing to do, especially after competing in four Ironman races taking place one after another, with only one week between each race – Ironman Florida, Ironman Arizona, Ironman Cozumel and Ironman Western Australia.

“(But) I am convinced that I will finish it and will have successfully (completed) this year’s goal – doing 22 Ironman races in one calendar year.”

Vrastil has done 21 Ironman races this year – can he make it 22?

The Demands

Most athletes do not compete in more than two Ironman-distance races – a 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run – in one year due to the extreme demands it places on the body.

It also makes for a demanding travel schedule – which doubles as recovery time for Vrastil, who has been on the road constantly since his campaign began in New Zealand in January. Other stops on his itinerary include Germany, China, Brazil, Spain, South Africa and eight of the United States of America, including Hawaii, where he has qualified to contest the Ford Ironman World Championships in October.

The Motivation

The three-time Olympic rower said part of his motivation behind the ambitious goal was to “set a good example” to his children, all of whom are competitive athletes. –

 (I thought this was hilarious! … when I told this story during a Roworx rowing class to my members, one lady said he was probably doing all these events to get away from the kids for awhile. I laughed because I also grew up in a family of Five kids with four older sisters and I really  don’t know how my parents dealt with us… 😉  . My Mom always said “We had tons of help!”) 

“I cannot say exactly what is behind my decision to do this,” he said.

“It was an idea and I thought, `why not?’ I was once told I would never walk again and at that point I thought to myself `one day I will make a world record’.”

*The last Ironman Miroslav Vrastil completed was in Austrailia this past weekend on Sunday! He has done it… 22 Ironman’s in One Calender year. Vrastils’ story and my experience doing 2 Ironmans in Nice, France and Florianopolis, Brazil in the past 2 years has prompted me to get motivated to train anyone at Roworx to do a Triathlon or Ironman. In the next few blogs I will share my experience in the amount of training, nutrition, and discipline it takes to complete an Ironman. 🙂   Some of the stories will be very entertaining, funny, and exciting so be sure not to miss these next few blogs. Thank you for your time and be sure to be a fan on my Facebook and refer this blog to a friend!

Jack Nunn…Ironman Nice, France 2008 (My first Ironman!)

If you have any questions about Personal Training Sessions with Jack Nunn at the Roworx Warehouse. Please contact Jack at: powerhousefit@gmail.com or call 562-688-1716

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Jack Nunn

Jack Nunn is the head trainer and owner of Roworx. Jack is a former national team rower who has competed in more than 100 triathlons, including 9 full Ironmans. He has created a system of rowing that prepares the whole body for both competition and fitness longevity.

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